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Apollo (Metamorphosis)


Local Crops, Tübingen


I was worried about the local crops

in the way I have been worried about crops

since I was a child riding the tractor

on the farm, since I searched for answers

in grain silos, since I worked 'on the wheat bins',

and since I disc-ploughed the stolen

ground for wheat and oat seeding.

This worry was part of processing

contradictions between eating and being de trop.

I was worried about the local crops

because of the long hot dry weather —

the young corn withering, beans pods under-

sized, and oats wilting. Then storms

brought vigour at last moments, and storms

corkscrewed into sections to make empty patterns,

and storms unleashed further contradictions.





Back At College After 2.5 Years Away, I am ‘Studied’ by the Grey Heron Standing in the Same Place in the Same Way


I am testing the boundaries of history

and have observed that it’s much less


about humans than is presumed.

Each sampling of animals as animals,


of poems ‘about’ animals, exposes

an over emphasis on humans. It’s not


a matter of those old deceptions — pathetic

fallacy and anthropomorphism


(animals wish for some equality!) —

but the case itself: everything serving


a human interest. There are no

poems written by animals available


to me, though I try to keep my senses

open. The grey heron standing


in the same place and in the same way

2.5 years on from where I last saw it


might be either playing a game

or enacting the deeply familiar


or both — one eye searching beyond

reflections and lily pads. Read:


average life span is ‘5 years in the wild’

and up to’ 23 years has been recorded’.


They have been collated. Cohabitating

with humans. Tolerating humans.


Appalled by mimicry in sculptures and text,

or expecting me to appear just as was when I left,


to compare anatomies in the same manner,

against the same topography, 2.5 years further


on in a history it has paralleled

or intersected or denies.





Apollo (Metamorphosis)


I don’t expect

to find the leaves

of a plant

with your name


by the veins.


No god will

have gifted

you the future

as a flower

when flowers

are losing

their footholds.


And you didn’t

inhabit metaphor

when you were

living, so

why now?


You expected

your body

to be able to do

what it had always

been able to do,

and when

it couldn’t,

there was no


under new



The internal

combustion engine

you knew

inside out

in all its iterations;

the fuel stations

you managed;

the machines

you kept

on the road.


All of it has to change,

and the gap between

now and then

is not open

for a new species

of plant

to take hold.


As ‘mechanical’

vies with ‘botanical’

the names

of those lost


in the veins.





John Kinsella is a poet, novelist, critic, essayist and editor. He is a Emeritus Professor of Literature and Environment at Curtin University and a Fellow of Churchill College, Cambridge.


Topic tags: John Kinsella, poetry



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